Benefits denied for injuries reported 3 months after accident
Case name: Ashworth v. Administaff, Inc., No. 10-0318 (La. Ct. App. 10/06/10).
Ruling: The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that a merchandiser was not entitled to benefits for injuries to her neck, lower back, and shoulder.
What it means: In Louisiana, when medical evidence does not causally relate injuries to a work accident, the injuries are not compensable.
A merchandiser's job duties included traveling to stores serviced by her employer to deal with merchandising issues. While at a store, a 700-pound display containing eight shower doors that she was checking fell and pinned her to the floor. She suffered three fractures to her right ankle and underwent surgery. The merchandiser made no complaints of neck, back, or shoulder pain in the emergency room immediately after the accident. Her first recorded complaint of neck, lower back, and shoulder pain was in an orthopedic surgeon's records three months after the accident. The Louisiana Court of Appeal denied benefits to the merchandiser for her neck, lower back, and shoulder.
The merchandiser claimed that she began to have pain in her neck, shoulder, and lower back a couple of weeks after the incident. She stated that she told multiple doctors about the pain, but an orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist told her they were only allowed to treat her ankle and knee pain. However, the court noted that medical records did not support the merchandiser's claims that she told medical providers about her pain shortly after the accident. The court also stated that diagnostic studies did not show a work-related complaint in the areas, and multiple doctors opined that the injuries were not work-related.
The merchandiser also claimed that she should be entitled to penalties. The court agreed, finding that she was entitled to $2,000 in penalties based on her employer's failure to pay her indemnity benefits for a four-day period. The court noted that the workers' compensation judge did not address this failure in the judgment.
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December 20, 2010
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